Cohort Based Learning Statistics (2023)

by Liz Hurley

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. However, this does not influence our evaluations.

If you're looking for statistics on cohort based courses you've come to the right place.

In this article we look at:

  • Statistics illustrating the drawbacks of self paced courses
  • Completion rate statistics for cohort based courses
  • Statistics supporting the educational value of cohort based learning
  • Companies disrupting the cohort based education space
  • Concluding remarks

Let's get started!

Top cohort based course statistics

  1. Whereas self-paced courses have completion rates as low as 3%, Cohort based courses often see completion rates of over 90%
  2. When you learn something passively, there’s a 72% chance you’ll forget it. But when you use it, answer questions about it, and interact with others there’s a 69% chance you’ll remember it
  3. There is a strong positive correlation between students’ sense of community and their learning success in online courses

The statistics paint a clear picture: completion rates for cohort based courses are exponentially higher than those of self paced courses. 

Cohort based learning fosters social interaction, collaboration and a sense of belonging to a community. Leading to increased student satisfaction, greater engagement and quality learning outcomes. 

There are several companies disrupting the space, including Forte Labs, Reforge, Maven, Section4, AltMBA,  Esme Learning Solutions, and Circle

Statistics illustrating the problem with self paced courses

  1. MIT researchers found that between 2013 and 2018, completion rates for MOOCs steadily declined, to an average of 3% (Reich and Ruiperez-Valiente) 
  2. Less than half of those taking MOOCs looked at more than a single lecture (Reich and Ruiperez-Valiente) 
  3. Udemy sees 8% completion rates from their best instructors (Client Engagement Academy) 

Completion rate statistics for cohort based courses

  1. Whereas self-paced courses have completion rates as low as 3%, Cohort based courses often see completion rates of over 90% (Ish Baid) 
  2. Customised online courses aimed at smaller groups which provide direct interaction and collaboration with professors and peers are seeing completion rates above 85% (Training Journal) 
  3. Students in Esme Learning’s cohort based learning courses are showing completion rates of 98-100% (Times Higher Education)
  4. Completion rates at Section 4 are 70+% (TechCrunch 3/21) 
  5. Nomadic Learning, achieves over 90% completion rate regularly in their cohort-based programs (Josh Bersin) 

Statistics supporting the educational value of cohort based learning

Learning pyramid
  1. Studies have found lack of social interaction to be the largest single barrier to student success online (Muilenburg & Berge)
  2. 85% participants indicated that being part of an online community was helpful in their learning (Vesely et al)
  3. There is a strong positive correlation between students’ sense of community and their learning success in online courses (Sadara et al) 
  4. Tools that foster effective online discussion have been found to help colleges achieve a statistically significant increase in student grades (Inside Higher Education) 
  5. To collaborate in peer learning activities has a positive effect in student engagement and on academic outcomes (Mulder et al)
  6. The use of technology to communicate and share ideas and project work has been shown to improve higher order thinking skills (Cradler et al)
  7. 58% of online cohort members who participated in one study agreed that relationships with classmates encouraged them to continue with the programme, and 94% stated that discussions increased their interest in course issues (Alman et al)
  8. When you learn something passively, there’s a 72% chance you’ll forget it. But when you use it, answer questions about it, and interact with others there’s a 69% chance you’ll remember it (Nomadic Learning)
  9. Feeling that they belong to a community of learners has a significant impact on the learning experiences of online students (Farrell & Brunton) 
  10. Research supports the development of community in online learning as an important factor for maximizing student satisfaction (Magjuka)

Companies disrupting the space with Cohort Based Learning

Forte Labs

  1. Forte's goal for 2023 is to reach gross revenue of $3 million
  2. Between 2017-19 Forte Labs saw 1,500 people take its cohort based Building a Second Brain (BASB) Course
  3. The September 2020 BASB cohort had 1,000+ participants from over 70 countries.
  4. The latest BASB cohort alone had 1,800 participants. So at its current rate of growth it could reach a level of 12,500 alumni in 3-5 years
  5. There is a team of almost 50 people involved in launching and delivering the BASB  Programme, one bonus workshop a week and 10 live sessions hosted by Tiago Forte
  6. Forte Labs also run a programme called Keystone Course Accelerator to help providers get their cohort based courses up and running. Tiago Forte’s goal is to help launch 100+ new courses into the world over the next year. (Forte Labs)
  7. Forte Lab’s website was receiving over 16K visits per month at the time of writing (Crunchbase)
  8. Canada (47%), Germany (24%) and the US (16%) are driving the most traffic (SimilarWeb)


  1. In February 2021, Reforge announced they’d raised $21M to help them build a school devoted to Cohort Based Courses (Crunchbase)
  2. In March 2023, it raised a further $60m in a Series B funding Round (Crunchbase)
  3. It has 14 investors and 2 lead investors (Crunchbase)
  4. It currently has 21 programs across growth, product, marketing, and engineering, and an alumni base of top operators from almost every leading tech company.
  5. Their cohort-based models create increase accountability, engagement and peer interaction, and enjoy industry-defining completion rates
  6. Reforge were receiving over 391K visits per month to their website at the time of writing (Semrush)
  7. The US (39%), the UK (12%) and Ukraine (7%) are the countries delivering the most traffic


  1. Maven is a new platform for cohort-based courses started by the founders of Udemy, altMBA and Socratic
  2. In November 2020, Maven raised $4.3M in a round led by First Round Capital
  3. It offers 400+ Cohort based courses taught live by experts

Esme Learning Solutions

  1. In January 2021, Esme Learning Solutions, a leading cohort based learning provider, announced the close of a $7.5M Series (PRNewswire)
  2. Esme Learning’s cohort based courses involve a mix of university faculty and 30-50 industry experts per course (Esme)
  3. Esme students spend an average of 45 to 60 minutes a week in an AI-coached group chat environment, solving one of the biggest challenges of online learning, which is that it can often be a lonely, solitary experience (Forbes) 
  4. Courses delivered by Esme have been delivering up to a 1,800% improvement on student satisfaction compared to other digital offerings (Tech for Good) 
  5. More than 90% of Esme Learning students reported that course offerings met or exceeded their expectations and, when compared to MOOCs 
  6. Esme Learning delivers a 3,000% improvement on students successfully finishing courses over MOOCs 
  7. Over 90% of students agreed that Esme course content was engaging, and 96% enrolled in a recent Esme Learning course reported satisfaction with group collaboration, which is a major tenet of Esme Learning's solution. 
  8. Even when compared to other “concierge” learning companies, Esme Learning students see 23% higher grades over learners who simply viewed and read the materials
  9. A recent study, funded by the National Science Foundation, proved that the Esme Learning Approach delivers 30-35% improvement on metrics such as grades and retention (Esme)
  10. Esme’s website was receiving over 115K visits per month at the time of writing (SimilarWeb)
  11. The UK (23%), the US (21%) and South Africa (8%) are the countries delivering the most traffic


  1. Section, a cohort based learning platform dedicated to business upskilling, raised a $30M Series A in March 2021. Total funding to date is now $37M (Business Wire)
  2. By 2020 Section had 10,000 alums. 30% of which are outside the US
  3. In early 2023, it grew its student body to 20,000 students earlier this year, making it the largest live learning platform in online education
  4. It aims to deliver 50% to 70% of the value of an elite MBA elective at 10% of the cost and 1% of the friction.
  5. Fifty of the Fortune 100 companies have people who’ve taken Section classes 
  6. Section classmates come from 50+ countries and 60+ industries (Section4)
  7. 88% of students have applied what they’ve learned within their organizations within three months of completing their Section course (Tech Crunch)
  8. Section's website was receiving over 173K visits per month at the time of writing (SimilarWeb)
  9. The US (40%), Brazil (8%) and Canada (7%) are driving the most traffic (SimilarWeb)


  1. Cohort based programme, The altMBA, founded in 2015 has transformed the lives of more than 4,500 people
  2. During an AltMBA workshop session, it’s not unusual for more than 50,000 messages to be exchanged between students and coaches
  3. Alt MBA Classmates come from 45+ countries and 85+ industries
  4. The programme is 56 hours of class time over 4 weeks with 13 projects and 3 team discussions a week for feedback and collaboration (AltMBA)


  1. Circle, a company facilitating cohort based learning by providing the benefits of community without the headaches raised a $4M seed in early 2021 with a valuation “north of” $40M (TechCrunch) 


An increasing body of evidence supports the fact that lack of social interaction and collaboration in online learning is a significant barrier to success.

As more and more companies disrupt the online learning space with cohort based learning solutions, more businesses will begin to recognize that cohort based courses deepen engagement, promote completion and lead to quality outcomes.

Related articles: Latest eLearning statistics, Homeschooling Statistics, Coursera Statistics, edX Statistics, Udemy Statistics, SkillShare Statistics, MasterClass Statistics, What is Blended Learning?, What is Hybrid Learning?, What is eLearning?, Benefits of eLearning, Disadvantages of eLearning

  12. Sadara, W., Robertson, J & Song, L. The Role of Community in Online Learning Success
  33. Similarweb

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.